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A build-and-burn routine to build better abs in no time flat

Goals: Strength, Detail
Bodypart: Abs (rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis)

No, we're not trying to move in on the Six Minute Abs dynasty. Actually, a quick web search will show you that everyone in the universe has already done that. But we are, as ever, about workout economy. And despite the army of misguided dudes you see crunching their lives away for 20 minutes at the gym, better abs can be had in less time. Way less.

Aside from diet, there are two things that tend to hinder progress with abdominal change: lack of variety, lack of intensity. Guys get locked into a "crunch first" mentality, performing endless sets and reps of this basic move, yawning their abs into mediocrity. This familiarity is a recipe for a perpetual plateau. To get the deeply-chiseled sixer that you've always wanted, you're going to need to challenge your abs with some less familiar moves in a way that ramps up the intensity to four-alarm fire levels.

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The Moves: Lower abs are usually a problem area for most men due to a lack of specific training for that area but also due to bad gender luck -- that's just where we tend to carry extra blubber. The double crunch, which is a combination of a standard crunch and a reverse crunch, brings your entire abdominal wall into play, including that sorely neglected lower third. The burn is unmistakable during your workout, but the day after a few sets of double crunches, you are left with a top-to-bottom soreness in your abs that is the hallmark of new progress.

Another move that tends to get left out of the abs mat crowd is the plank. This move, which trains your deep transverse abdominis muscles, helps you build strength throughout your entire core. This not only triggers a thorough burn in your midsection but it also helps you to accumulate greater stability on bigger lifts like squats and deadlifts where core strength is key for moving heavy loads.

The Scheme: For this small-but-mighty routine, you're going to work at a non-stop pace, which will heighten the calorie burn while placing a greater demand on your tragically complacent midsection. You'll start on your back with the double crunch. Perform 10 clean, deliberate reps and immediately flip over on to your elbows for a 10-second plank. At the end of the 10 seconds, roll over and do it again. After five such sequences, you're done. Fifty abs-shredding double crunches and 50 seconds worth of core-liquefying planks. To continue seeing change in your abs, try 12 reps and 12 seconds next week, 15 reps and 15 seconds the next. During Week 4, try going for 20 reps of double crunches and 20 second planks. Perform these workouts once or twice per week to get the ripped look you're seeking.

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Exercise Sets x Reps/Time Sets x Reps/Time Sets x Reps/Time Sets x Reps/Time
Double Crunch
5 x 10 5 x 12 5 x 15 5 x 20
-superset with-
5 x 10 sec. 5 x 12 sec. 5 x 15 sec. 5 x 20 sec.

--Do not rest between supersets.
--Perform this routine 1-2 times per week following your heavy training.